*Restricts rites to 60,000 local pilgrims
By Haroon Ishola-Balogun with Agency Report
Saudi Arabia has said it will limit registration for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to citizens and residents of the Kingdom in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Haramain, and Arab News platforms, the Ministries of Health and Hajj announced Saturday that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year. The Hajj begins mid-July.
It stressed that those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and to be within the ages from 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus according to the Kingdom’s vaccination measures.
Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.
The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the ministry said. “The Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”
A deputy to the Hajj minister meanwhile said that Saudi Arabia found great understanding from Muslim countries over the decision to limit this year’s pilgrimage participants.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to limit Hajj2021 to pilgrims from within the Kingdom.
About 65, 000 Nigerians will miss the opportunity to participate in this year’s hajj. This is the second time Nigerian pilgrims will miss the annual pilgrimage as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Nation Hajj Commission, NAHCON is yet to react to the development.